What is a breast lift (mastopexy)?
A breast lift (mastopexy) is designed to elevate a sagging breast without reducing its volume. As women age, gravity and changes in breast tissue quality result in significant second sagging (or, breast ptosis). Skin loses its elasticity and breast fat can migrate down the chest and lose its volume.
A breast lift is very effective for re-establishing the breast shape and perkiness that have undergone these changes. This is very disconcerting for women, especially those who have suffered these changes following a pregnancy or extreme weight loss.
Sometimes, an implant is also inserted to further increase the volume, size and shape of the breast while maintaining the benefits of the lift. Dr. Panossian is happy to discuss this option with you as well during your consultation.
How is a breast lift (mastopexy) performed?
Once the surgeon has determined that you are a good candidate for breast lift surgery, the procedure is performed using one of three currently practiced methods. These are based mainly on the degree of breast sagging (or, breast ptosis) and the style of incision required. For breasts with mild sagging (Grade I), a circumareolar mastopexy may be sufficient to elevate the nipple-areola complex to a more aesthetically pleasing position. In this type of surgery, an asymmetric incision is placed around the existing nipple-areola complex. The nipple is then elevated to the new position, and the incisions are closed in a circular pattern around the the new areola.
For breasts with moderate to severe sagging (Grade II or III ptosis), we use a lollipop-style incision to gain greater elevation of the nipple-areola complex. We call this a “vertical lift” or vertical mastopexy. The surgeon resizes the areola during this procedure and elevates the breast tissues that descended through the incisions. Lastly, Dr. Panossian removes excess skin in a precise manner without sacrificing breast tissue and fat to augment the volume.
For extremely severe sagging, (Grade IV ptosis), we use an anchor-style incision to resuspend the breast tissues, elevate the nipple-areola complex, and eliminate redundant skin. This is the most extreme type of lift for the most extreme type of breast ptosis.
Most breasts are amenable to either the circumareolar or vertical mastopexy (lollipop–style) options. Frequently, surgeons can combine a breast lift with implants to help further enhance breast volume. Dr. Panossian will perform a thorough consultation prior to surgery in order to establish the optimal surgical plan that will match your expectations and desires.
What is the recovery from a breast lift?
A breast lift (mastopexy) can take between 2 and 4 hours to perform in an outpatient setting. We use long-acting local anesthesia in combination with general anesthesia to limit pain substantially in the postoperative period. You should have a friend or relative assist you in the first 24 hours after surgery. Your initial dressings will include gauze and either an elastic bandage or surgical bra. We will remove any external stitches during the first visit. These dressings will then be replaced in the first week for a soft support bra. You will need to wear it around the clock for the next 3 to 4 weeks.
Your breasts will be bruised and swollen for the first week following surgery, however, pain is minimal. As with other breast procedures, you should plan on staying home for the first week, with very limited activities including walking, reading, and light duty around the house. Avoid driving during this time as well as heavy lifting or reaching above your head.
In 2 weeks, you may begin to gently increase your activity including more extensive walking, but no aggressive exercise or weight lifting. Running and other high impact activities are also to be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks.
There may be some diminished sensation in the nipples or breast skin. Much of this will go away as the swelling subsides over the next 6 weeks. Occasionally, the decreased sensation may be permanent.
Risks and Complications
What are the risks and complications of breast lift?
A breast lift (especially when performing breast implant augmentation as well) is not a simple surgery, but it is relatively safe in experienced hands. Nonetheless, every surgery carries an inherent set of risks and potential for complications. Sensitivity or reaction to anesthesia is a rare possibility with any procedure. Bleeding and infection can also rarely occur. Many times, these two complications are controlled with needle aspiration in the office and/or oral antibiotics. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to perform another brief surgery to drain the blood collection (or, hematoma) or clean out an infection or administration of intravenous antibiotics. When combined with an implant augmentation, the risk for requiring surgery to address these problems may be slightly higher.
Scars are commonplace for any surgical procedure. In a breast lift procedure, the scars can sometimes be quite extensive. They can be raised or can stretch or widen over time. There are different breast lift techniques, but Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Panossian has developed his own technique for improving the appearance of breast scars with a combination of products and timing that have provided incredible results time and again (however, individual results may vary).
Slight asymmetry is always a risk in plastic surgery. After a breast lift, there may be subtle differences between the breasts in terms of shape, size, nipple position, or decreased sensation. Once again, these are relatively rare occurrences in experienced hands.
Dr. Panossian has vast experience in minimal-scar breast lift surgery and will be happy to go over the various options during consultation. His staff is also available at all times to answer your questions and address problems, should they arise. Call today for a consultation.
Why choose Dr Panossian
- He received his medical education at Tufts University School of Medicine.
- Graduated at the top of his class at UCLA, receiving Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude honors.
- Was accepted into an elite combined general surgery and plastic surgery residency at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
- Completed subspecialty training in craniofacial surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Harvard Medical School.
- Was mentored by Dr. Ron Zuker in the practice of facial paralysis reconstruction. This prestigious fellowship position was available to only one surgeon in the United States.
- Is affiliated with various charitable and educational organizations, including Operation Smile and Mending Kids.
- Is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the highly selective American Association of Plastic Surgeons, reserved for only a select group of individuals nationally who have demonstrated excellence in academic plastic surgery.
- Holds memberships in several other professional societies including the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery.
- He serves on the Board of Directors for Mending Kids and the Gondobay Manga Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement of lives in Sierra Leone.
- Has been nominated by his peers annually since 2012 as a “Super Doctor.”
- Served as an expert medical consultant and appeared on The Doctors, Grey’s Anatomy, and Nip/Tuck.
- Has been featured as “Top Doctor” in US News and World Report, Pasadena Magazine, and Los Angeles Magazine.
Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Lift
If you live near Pasadena, CA, Dr. Panossian offers breast lift among its services, and is conveniently located at 39 Congress St., Suite 402 Pasadena, CA 91105
Last modified by Dr. Andre Panossian